Mortars for the Millions - Wacker Chemie AG

Mortars for the Millions

Polymers Extend Open Time

Micrograph of the the bonding course between VINNAPAS®-modified dry-mix mortar (left) and ceramic tiles (right).

“In the desert regions of Africa and Arabia, the temperatures sometimes reach 50 °C,” explains Sanaobar. This causes the mortar to dry out very quickly. Deploying dispersible polymer powders would prolong the pot life of the dry-mix mortar considerably, by 10 to 15 minutes, while at the same time reducing the formulation costs for many customers.

In Europe, by contrast, there are different priorities due to the different construction methods. Cost pressures here are high, too, but so are the wages, and machinery is widely used. The building professionals in the developed industrial nations figure that the way to lower the costs there is to have fewer working steps. So, the approach is to devise building materials and additives that make products easier to use on site. Premixed polymer-modified dry-mix mortars meet this need, because they do not have to be mixed on the building site. That saves time and rules out the risk of mistakes during preparation. The more unskilled or semiskilled workers there are working on the site, the greater that risk is.

Every third new building is constructed in China

One of the most interesting markets for construction chemicals is China, whose mega-cities are buzzing with more construction activity than anywhere else in the world. A study by the European Center for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises shows that China now constructs roughly one-third of the world’s new buildings. The country consumes around 55 percent of world cement production, with living space alone increasing annually by 1.8 billion square meters.

Promising Market Environment

VINNAPAS® dispersible polymer powders Classes L and F

Class L VINNAPAS® dispersible polymer powders improve both the mechanical and flow properties of building materials. Used together with casein and synthetic superplasticizers they produce very smooth, flawless surfaces. They also reduce surface bleeding and sedimentation. Class F VINNAPAS® dispersible polymer powders function as both binders and superplasticizers in self-leveling flooring compounds. This allows the compound to be applied efficiently and economically with a grout pump. Furthermore, Class F VINNAPAS® dispersible polymer powders determine specific flow properties (rheology) of the self-leveling compounds, depending on the scope of application and type of delivery required. Class L and F VINNAPAS® products at the correct dosage fulfill various European eco-labels such as the Blue Angel and EMICODE EC1 PLUS.

Dr. Thomas Bastelberger, a research chemist at WACKER POLYMERS, has already developed new dry-mix mortars aimed specifically at the Chinese market and speaks from experience: “At the moment in China, the overriding consideration is that the building materials should be inexpensive.” Labor costs are low and so it is virtually immaterial if construction falls behind schedule. However, Dr. Bastelberger believes that China offers enormous potential for polymer-modified dry-mix mortars – and not just because of the frenetic building activity. “Ceramic and porcelain tiles are extremely popular in China.” China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tiles, and so it ought to be the perfect market for our products.”

The WACKER experts still need to do some educational work in some regions, though, before the highly favorable market conditions will translate into the expected demand. “The biggest hurdle is a lack of regulation. The fact that there are no standards often means there is no legal pressure to use any high-quality products that will ensure durability,” says Sanaobar, head of the WACKER Technical Center in Dubai.

To raise quality awareness for mortar in the various regions and to encourage the development of building codes, WACKER is collaborating with universities and research institutions, such as Dubai Central Laboratory at the Dubai municipality. “Through our efforts, we are helping to improve building codes in these regions and in so doing are indirectly boosting demand for WACKER dispersible polymer powders,” says Ole Mecker head of the Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa business team at WACKER, by way of explanation.